BOSTON (CBS) – The NFL rulebook is 121 pages long and is available in PDF form on the league’s website.
There are only 17 rules for on-field play, but they are so complex and complicated that it’s enough to be its own novel.
According to NFL penalty data collected by Pro Football Focus, defensive pass interference was the third most called penalty in 2012, and consistently ranks in the top five – but it continues to increase year after year.
What’s most troubling about all this is the subjective nature of the defensive pass interference penalty, and the inconsistency of how it’s called.
The Patriots are not alone – it’s a league wide problem – but defensive pass interference is affecting the outcomes of games, most notably the end of their game against the Carolina Panthers on Monday Night Football.
And even last week against the Browns, on the other side of the coin, the Patriots were the beneficiaries of a very weak defensive pass interference call. The penalty put them at the 1-yard line for the go-ahead score, allowing them to eke out a 27-26 win.
Andy Gresh and Scott Zolak analyzed this growing trend of pass interference calls in the NFL and what can be done about it.
“The National Football League is not ruined – but that doesn’t mean that they’re above reproach and that they don’t have some issues that they need to tend do,” said Gresh. “Pass interference, and the interpretation thereof is one of them.”
Gresh then defined the pass interference penalty and one suggestion he came up with is adding an eighth official as a solution to curb this trend.
Scott Zolak remembers when he played football and how it was so much different back then. He believes defensive players should be allowed to play the football.
“It’s a contact sport. If you don’t want contact go get a desk job,” said Zo.
GRESH & ZO: Patriots Have No Margin For Error
A larger problem Zo believes is that the referees are being influenced by the home crowd. And with so many teams still in the playoff hunt, it would be a disaster for the league if a team’s postseason berth was denied by a controversial call.
“A lot of teams are vying for a playoff spot, so there’s parity within the league. Teams are tighter. Other than Seattle, who looks like the clear favorite as far as separating themselves from the pack, everyone else is kind of tight.”
“So all these games are depending on the final four minutes. Whatever building these referees are in they’re getting caught up in the moment. Opinions are swayed, it’s the reaction [from the fans] that draws the late flag.”
“It’s becoming a major problem in the National Football League. I have no clue what the term ‘pass interference’ means anymore,” finished Zo.
Listen below for the full discussion and vote in our poll: